BUSINESS

Greece should develop sectors other than tourism, experts say

TAGS: Business, Economy

The Greek economy needs to find new orientations, via sectors such as manufacturing, new technologies and renewable energy, in order to make up for the ground lost from tourism and related services due to the Covid-19 pandemic, experts told Xinhua in recent interviews, as Greece is facing the prospect of a deep recession this year.

The European Commission projected on Wednesday a 9.7-percent economic contraction in Greece in 2020, while Athens last week presented to the Commission a baseline scenario for a 4.7 percent contraction and an adverse scenario for a 7.9 percent recession this year. Both estimates are based on the anticipated slump in tourism revenues in 2020.

"Greece is heavily reliant on tourism, with 20 percent of the economy depending on it directly or indirectly," Nikolina Kosteletou, economics professor at the University of Athens, told Xinhua.

In 2019, Greece's tourism revenues totaled 18.17 billion euros, i.e. almost 10 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP), according to the Bank of Greece.

"The country has relied too heavily on tourism. This is a good opportunity to consider other ways for the economy to recover, and above all manufacturing," Dimitris Keridis, a member of parliament for the ruling New Democracy party and professor of international relations at Panteion University in Athens, told Xinhua on Thursday.

"Outside of fuel products, Greece's exports are very small, and this has to change now. Manufacturing can also cooperate with the primary sector and in combination with the tourism product to be at the forefront of the economy," he said.

Keridis explained that the eight percent share of GDP that Greece's manufactured agricultural products represent is one of the lowest among the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) states.

Besides manufacturing, the MP added, Greece "ought to develop further the sectors of logistics and technology startups," noting that in these domains the country has an advantage.

"We need to diversify our offerings," agreed Kosteletou, noting the significant digital leaps the state has made during the months of the lockdown, as in a short period of time there are steps made that had not been taken for years.

"There is therefore a great opportunity for the country's digitalization," said the professor.

Greece has the chance to make its economy more extrovert and give it more exporting prospects through research and technology, argued Dimitris Kenourgios, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Athens.

"After all, the ongoing health crisis has highlighted scientific research as a public good," he added.

Another sector Greece must develop is energy which, according to Keridis, is an economic field that has attracted significant investments.

Last week, George Peristeris, head of the Greek Association of Renewable Energy Sources (RES) Electricity Producers, told the general meeting of Athens-listed company Terna Energy that in the next three years the RES sector in Greece will see investments of 10-11 billion euros, so as to increase production and storage capacity.

[Xinhua]

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